A man waits for DC Central Kitchen to open in the early morning on Capitol Hill on Dec. 1. More than 5,000 volunteers a year help to prepare 3,000 meals a day 365 days a year at the kitchen.
While the city’s growth in homelessness can be attributed to various factors, local politicians fear much of the upsurge could be a result of a perception by homeless people in neighboring states that they can access better services in the District.
A year ago, the D.C. Council passed an amendment to the Homeless Services Reform Act aimed at deterring such migration. Proposed by Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, the amendment provided strict residency verification requirements for all clients seeking homeless services, such as emergency and transitional shelter housing.
That’s got some activists riled up.
“The residency requirement proposed in this legislation deters district families from seeking shelter,” Monica Bell, a public interest fellow at the Legal Aid Society, told the D.C. Council’s Committee on Human Services. “[The legislation] would leave families with children, who seek shelter as a last resort, out on the street.”
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.